Chapter 1: Right on Crime & Re-Entry
Marshall DeRosa’s Inmate Civics Education Enhancement Project (ICEEP) program at Florida Atlantic University, funded by the Charles Koch Foundation and (private prison) GEO Group, aims to “change the culture within the prison and prepare inmates for their return into society.”
In the program, inmates read a book called The Five Thousand Year Leap: 28 Great Ideas That Changed the World. The book is regarded as the “handbook” of the (Koch-instigated) Tea Party movement. It was written by the late Cleon Skousen, who was also a member of the Koch-funded Council for National Policy (CNP). According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the CNP mixes “ostensibly mainstream conservatives with far-right and extremist ideologues,” including hate groups like the League of the South.
The League of the South (LOS) identifies as a “Southern Nationalist organization” that openly advocates for the secession of southern states and “seeks the survival, well being, and independence of the Southern people.” In 2000, the SPLC designated the League of the South a white nationalist hate group. In 2004, it was found that Florida’s LOS branch had ties to known Aryan terrorists.
The director of this program is FAU political science professor, Marshall DeRosa. As early as 2000 and as recently as 2009, DeRosa was listed as a “faculty” member of the League of the South Institute, which describes itself as the “educational arm of the Southern independence movement.” He is also on the research advisory council of Florida’s premier Koch-funded think tank, the James Madison Institute and a scholar at the nation’s premier neo-confederate think tank, the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
DeRosa’s 2017 report report on his extremist “civics” program suggests how “conservatives” might gain political ground while appearing to support restoration of voting rights, proposing a “practical” approach that would:
restore rights to those who have completed civics programming while incarcerated, the results would be to expose thousands of new voters to the very constitutional principles which conservatives hold dear. (DeRosa, 2017)
The Koch-network, through their use of organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council, have (among other things) manipulated the criminal justice system for profit, and for the continued subjugation of poor people and minorities. Not only is this network responsible for the tough-on-crime era responsible for the current Prison Industrial Complex, but they are currently looking to control the criminal justice narrative again through an initiative called Right on Crime. This effort is made up of the exact same people and organizations as the previous one, using the same talking points and strategies.
Several Key figures in Koch's criminal justice reform front group, Right on Crime, are also CNP members, including Prison Fellowship’s Pat Nolan, Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist, the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Ralph Reed, and the Mercatus Center’s Edwin Meese III.
Many Koch network figures have been active members and officers in the Council for National Policy, several of whom served on CNP's Board of Governors alongside the League of the South’s Michael Peroutka (such as Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips, and Koch network donors John Templeton Jr. and Foster Friess..
From the top-down, Koch’s political operation is full of ties to white supremacy and hate groups. As evidenced by Marshall DeRosa, these ties also exist from the bottom-up.
Chapter 2: Academic White Supremacy
Beyond Marshall DeRosa, the Charles Koch Foundation has a history of funding scholars affiliated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute. The Mises Institute is devoted to the propagation of Austrian economics, which seeks a full and final erosion of government. Some have already started to observe how this ideology creates a “libertarian to Alt-Right pipeline,” a slippery slope from free-market economic ideas into violent anti-leftism. The use of Austrian economics as a gateway to extremist ideologies mirrors the "paleo-libertarian" strategy developed by Mises Institute founders Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell, who spent years publishing openly racist newsletters in an attempt to make political allies with hard right conservatives.
The Ludwig von Mises Institute is a “Neo-confederate” think tank. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes “neo-confederacy” as “a reactionary, revisionist predilection for symbols of the [confederacy], typically paired with a strong belief in the validity of the failed doctrines of nullification and secession.” At least nine Mises Institute scholars were active with the League of the South.
Only counting donations where Mises scholars were the direct recipient or “Principal Investigator,” the Koch foundation has provided at least $12,469,679 directly to ten Mises scholars between 2005 and 2016. The Koch foundation has spent $14,603,755 on programs run by, or supporting, nineteen Mises scholars on fifteen campuses between 2005-16.
At least thirteen Mises Institute scholars are active members of the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE), Koch’s free-market academic association.
Koch's programs at George Mason University (including the Mercatus Center and Institute for Humane Studies) have supported several League of the South members, including Donald Livingston, Thomas Woods, Joseph Stromberg, and Thomas DiLorenzo. Several other scholars affiliated with the Mises Institute faculty have ties to IHS and Mercatus, and George Mason University, including several Mises scholars, GMU faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students. In March of 2018, the annual conference of Students for Liberty was co-funded by the Charles Koch Institute, the Institute for Humane Studies, Mercatus, and the Mises Institute.
The Mises Institute's summer program, "Mises University," features Koch-funded professors alongside LOS scholars. The Mises University student fellowship program has grown quickly, from 31 fellows in 2015 to 150 fellows in 2017. Many of these students get involved in the Mises Institute through Koch-funded campus programs at Florida Gulf Coast University, George Mason University, Loyola University, Western Carolina University, and other universities.
Along with several Koch-funded professors, the 2017 Mises University program featured Mises Institute staff who made overt Neo-Nazi appeals to “blood and soil,” referenced political assassination, and described the global advancement of radical Alt-Right ideology.
Several Mises Institute scholars are contributors to white nationalist hate groups like American Renaissance and VDARE, including Hans Hermann Hoppe and Paul Gottfried. Gottfried is credited for inspiring Richard Spencer, the President of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank.
Hans Hermann Hoppe has been the inspiration behind the violent Alt-Right "neo-reactionary" movement, whose position can be loosely characterized as advocating violence against people whose concepts of "private property" do not align with free-market conceptions. Hoppe, and with him the Mises Institute, has been feeding a violent anarcho-capitalist movement around the world.
Hans Hermann Hoppe's ideology is built upon Mises' 1949 book, Human Action. In the book, Mises asserts that people whose motivations do not align with his definition of “human action” are "practically not human." He argues that "up to now certain races have contributed nothing or very little to the development of civilization and can, in this sense, be called inferior." Hoppe references Human Action twenty-two times in his incendiary 2001 book, Democracy: the God That Failed.
Hoppe describes his praxeology as the “Science of Human Action.” Charles Koch's proprietary philosophy, Market Based Management®, is also based in Mises' Human Action, and he refers to it as the "Science of Human Action." Two of Koch's books quote Mises' Human Action, and the Charles Koch Foundation has repeatedly promoted Human Action on their website, even linking to the Mises Institute.
Chase Rachels, a Mises affiliated scholar, recently had Hans Hermann Hoppe write the foreword to his 2018 book, White, Right, and Libertarian. Rachels describes the book's aim as to “entice the Alt-Right to adopt the political/economic theory of genuine libertarians, and libertarians to adopt the cultural positions of the Alt-Right.” The Mises Institute distanced itself from the project when Rachel’s cover art was leaked, featuring four dead bodies hanging from a helicopter. The bodies hanging from the helicopter each had symbols for heads, depicting a communist, a muslim, an anti-fascist, and a feminist.
At a time when many are concerned about a corporate-led constitutional convention that would radically revise the U.S. Constitution as to limit democracy and ensure corporate power, Koch’s premiere free market academic association, the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE), is holding their 2018 conference on precisely that theme, “Constitutions of Liberty: How to Bring Leviathan to Heel?” Their call for papers asks:
When will a constitution bring Leviathan to heel? This question is important and relevant not only in regard to authoritarian states. Liberal democracies are often subject to “constitutional drift” . . .In the U.S., for example, instances of constitutional drift include the executive’s usurpation of authority to initiate war, the use of eminent domain to expropriate property for private use, and the increased use of executive orders as substitutes for (or the means to void) legislation.
This question has a dark history in the field of Austrian economics.
Ludwig von Mises, the namesake of the Mises Institute, was involved with the fascist overthrow of Austria. Mises was the chief economist for the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and close advisor to Federal Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss who, in 1933, exploited a political crisis in pre-WWII Austria for the sake of his right-wing Catholic political party. Dollfuss seized dictatorial power and suspended parliament, abolishing Austria's democracy. Dollfuss banned both his conservative political opposition, the Austrian Nazi party, and used a private militia, the Patriotic Front to initiate a civil war and eradicate the Austrian socialists. Hundreds of socialists were murdered, and thousands were taken as political prisoners. Austro-fascism was installed through the creation of an authoritarian May Constitution of 1934.
The 1973 U.S. backed coup of Chile's democratically-elected Salvador Allende by General Augusto Pinochet is a more recent instance of free-market economists (including Austrian economists) aiding a fascist overthrow of democracy. Pinochet notoriously murdered and imprisoned his socialist political rivals. Many free-market economists, including Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, lent direct support to Pinochet's authoritarian regime.
While Koch and many in his academic network will disavow connections to the school of radical Austrian economics associated with Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard, claiming to favor the branch associated with Friedrich von Hayek, it is critical to keep in mind that Charles Koch has heavily funded scholars from both Austrian schools of thought, and all evidence suggest that Koch is a Misesian/Rothbardian at heart.
Chapter 3: The Koch Family - An Unbroken Lineage of White Supremacy
As first reported by Jane Mayer Charles Koch's father, Fred Koch, acquired considerable wealth building the third largest fuel refinery for Nazi Germany in the years preceding World War II. These refineries were one of the few sources of high-octane fuel that drove the Nazi fighter planes and bombing raids. Letters from Fred Koch show overt sympathies with the Axis nations of Germany, Italy, and Japan just one year before WWII began.
Charles Koch’s early academic organizations had alarming ties to Holocaust denialism, with Charles himself directly funding deniers. Additional ties existed through the Center for Libertarian Studies, Institute for Humane Studies, and Cato Institute.
"Koch funded the creation of Rampart College in 1966, who hired known Holocaust denier James Martin to run the history department. The Rampart Journal’s board of academic advisers included current and future IHS officials, as well as Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Hans Sennholz. When Rampart collapsed, Martin named Charles Koch as among the “millionaires” that supported him financially."
Reference to Nazi Germany was made at the inaugural conference for the Center for Libertarian Studies, which was intended to develop a libertarian strategy for political change. At the conference, Leonard Liggio presented alongside Charles Koch. Liggio's contribution was a paper called “National Socialist Political Strategy: Social Change in a Modern Industrial Society with an Authoritarian Tradition.” The paper was “an examination of the Nazi success in capturing the German state… particularly interested in the Nazis’ use of youth movements as an essential part of their overall movement.” Liggio would become an officer at the Cato Institute, and eventually a longtime President and Chair of the Institute for Humane Studies, the primary youth recruitment and training arm of Koch’s “Liberty Movement.”
The Center for Libertarian Studies (CLS) was launched with $65,000 from Charles Koch. Early CLS officials consisted of several (eventual) Mises Institute founders or scholars: Murray Rothbard, Henry Hazlitt, Joseph Stromberg, and Walter Block. Lew Rockwell, who would later found the Mises Institute, served as longtime Vice President of CLS. The Mises Institute has described itself as “heir to the Center for Libertarian Studies.”
The League of the South (LOS) was founded in 1994 and led by at least nine Mises Institute scholars, at least three of whom were also officials of the Center for Libertarian Studies. This included Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard, Donald Livingston, Thomas DiLorenzo, Marshall DeRosa, Jeffrey Tucker, Thomas Woods, Clyde Wilson, and (CLS official) Joseph Stromberg.
After the LOS was labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2000, a spin-off organization, the Abbeville Institute, was formed by several members. It is named after the birthplace of fierce slavery advocate, John Calhoun. Mises Institute scholars currently active with the Abbeville Institute that came over from the LOS include: Donald Livingston, Thomas DiLorenzo, Joseph Stromberg, Marshall DeRosa, and Clyde Wilson. Mises Institute's Paul Gottfried is also affiliated with Abbeville Institute.
The League of the South has very close ties to the White Citizens Council, a violent white supremacist organization (later known as the Council of Conservative Citizens). At least five founding members of the LOS played active roles in the WCC/CCC, including David Cooksey, Roger Busbice, Michael Grissom, and Phil Beverly. In 1963, a member of the WCC was responsible for the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. In 2015, Dylan Roof, the white supremacist responsible for the murder of nine people in the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, cited the WCC as his inspiration.
The White Citizens Council had deep connections to the John Birch Society (JBS), an extreme anti-communist, anti-civil rights organization. Charles Koch's father, Fred Koch, was an early National Board member of the JBS. Charles was an active JBS member between 1961 and 1968, when JBS openly opposed the Civil Rights Movement and denouncing it as a communist conspiracy. In 1966, JBS and WCC filed a joint “petition to the federal government “to investigate whether King and over 100,000 other rights activists had Communist connections.”
At the height of violent police repression of civil rights activists, the John Birch Society countered the call for civilian review boards for police with awas countered by JBS’s “Support Your Local Police” campaign and labeled the activists efforts, opposing the “leftist-inspired local police review boards” as an attempt to “nationalize the police.” Their campaign exists to this day, with a current focus on smearing Black Lives Matter activists, accusing them of being paid protestors, “Marxists,” “street thugs,” and part of a “national plan” to murder police.
Despite discontinuing his membership in the late sixties, Charles Koch continued his partnership with several JBS collaborators. As recently as 1976, we see Charles Koch using JBS as a model for his political and academic programming. With the help of JBS members like George Pearson, this included planning how to maximize donor leverage over academic donations. Pearson and Koch carried this strategy out through the Institute for Humane Studies.
In the past decade, we can see Koch's political organizations continue to collaborate with the John Birch Society. In 2011, Ohio's branch of Americans for Prosperity co-funded the “We The People Convention” and prominently featured JBS President John McManus in several events. In 2014, the Charles Koch Institute and JBS co-funded the Florida Liberty Summit.
Chapter 4: The Koch Network’s Anti-Civil Rights Crusade
While Charles Koch was a member, the John Birch Society (JBS) fiercely opposed the integration of public schools. In 1961, the year Charles Koch joined JBS, the organization’s top priority was the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren. On the JBS’ "Grounds for Impeachment" document, the Brown v. Board of Education case was listed as a top concern. JBS and others advocated resistance to Brown v. Board through "legal maneuvers to block its impact," including the use of "segregation academies," now known as charter schools.
Other free market economists supported these efforts included Milton Friedman and James Buchanan. Buchanan provided an intellectual framework for the school vouchers, or "tuition grants," to prevent desegregation and promote a “system of privately operated schools,” including for-profit schools. Buchanan described ethical problems with the “involuntary integration” of schools, calling it “coercive.” Charles Koch supported Buchanan and his research for decades at George Mason University.
Decades later, the segregationist roots of charter schools have been largely forgotten, and an industry around for-profit schools has grown, allowing public funding to go to private, often for-profit, schools that perpetuate segregation. Donors in Koch's network are bankrolling this modern "school choice" movement.
Organizations like EdChoice and the Alliance for School Choice have been top sponsors of the American Legislative Exchange Council, and led state and national efforts to privatize education. In recent years, key organizations in Charles Koch's political operation, including Americans for Prosperity, the LIBRE Initiative, and the Charles Koch Institute, have launched an aggressive multi-state push for "school choice." We see instances of Koch-funded professors playing roles in this political transformation.
In addition to combatting civil rights protections for schoolchildren, the Koch network has more overtly fought to dismantle affirmative action and legalize racial discrimination in higher education and at the ballot box. This includes funding the Project on Fair Representation and the Center for Individual Rights.
The Project on Fair Representation, run by American Enterprise Institute's Ed Blum, is a legal fund that pushes to dismantle affirmative action in higher education by seeking out cases “that challenges racial and ethnic classifications and preferences in state and federal courts.” The Center for Individual Rights, led by two professors at George Mason University, has fought affirmative action and defended discrimination. CIR has used "staged litigation, deceptive public statements, and incitements of racial fears for the purpose of ethnically reengineering college admissions" in a way that "would remove most African Americans from our leading colleges."
The Koch network has also worked to reverse voting rights through many methods, including voter suppression and legal attacks on the Voting Rights Act. The Project on Fair Representation brought the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case before the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. The Center for Individual Rights filed a similar case.
The proliferation of “Voter ID” laws across the country has overwhelmingly suppressed the votes of minorities, youth, and the elderly. These laws were created and spread by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Americans for Prosperity has engaged in other forms of voter suppression, including "voter caging" where organizations directly challenge the eligibility of voters. An AFP affiliated group called True the Vote took this strategy nationwide in 2012.
The Koch network’s anti-civil rights efforts can also be seen in their funding and advocacy for programs that have expanded the prison-industrial complex.
As popularized in Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, the institution of slavery in the U.S. has evolved into the "prison industrial complex." While this process took place over a long period of time, across many institutions, the problem as we now know it can be largely attributed to Koch network operatives and organizations like ALEC, which have received long-term financial support from private prisons and allowed the corrections industry to guide policy language through various task forces.
During the 1990s, ALEC was not only the source of legislation that allowed for-profit prisons to boom, but it proliferated the draconian "tough on crime" legislation that filled those prisons. This included the Minimum-Mandatory Sentencing Act, Truth in Sentencing Act, “Three-Strikes-You’re-Out” laws, and bills allowing juveniles to be charged as adults.
A leaked ALEC conference document show shows the NRA and private prisons driving the national "tough on crime" narrative, with the help of many Koch network operatives who are now active in Koch's Right on Crime criminal justice initiative. Charles and David Koch were in attendance.
ALEC pioneered legislation that expanded prison labor, including the "Prison Industries Act." Academics funded by Bill and Charles Koch made clear contributions to the expansion of prison labor in several states. This included work with a short-lived prison labor think tank called the Enterprise Prison Institute, led by the Mercatus Institute's Edwin Meese III.
The nation’s largest for-profit prisons diversified into the post-incarceration sector, or “reentry” sector. This includes providing contracted services for parole, electronic monitoring, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, and any other pre/post-release service that can be contracted to private entities. Many of these entities have been sued for violations of civil rights through a system of a “judicially sanctioned extortion racket[s]” in several states, yet they continue to receive local and state contracts. Many of these contractors have direct ties to ALEC.
These “reentry” reforms are being championed by a Koch-funded front group, Right on Crime (ROC), whose parent organization (the Texas Public Policy Foundation) has received funding from private prison GEO Group as well as Koch Industries.
Officials from the Charles Koch Institute and ALEC have described how ROC's agenda is being crafted by ALEC and SPN. These reforms look to exploit state and federal programs which open contracts to private providers based on project cost savings. Among the organizations involved, a clear pattern of flawed methodology, involving multiple kinds of "selection bias," has been used to inflate cost savings. These organizations and programs include Prison Fellowship, Ready4Work, Operation New Hope, and the Prison Entrepreneurship Project, the last two of which have branched into for-profit labor organizations.
In addition to privatizing corrections, we can also see a clear pattern of advocacy among Koch's academics for the privatization of the police. Several Koch funded academics, including Bruce Benson (Florida State University) and Edward Stringham (Trinity University) have advocated for the privatization of policing, and a recent Koch foundation grant to Doug Noonan (Indiana University) sought to "demonstrate the unsustainability of local public safety financing."
Former leader of the private militia Blackwater, Erik Prince, was a panelist alongside Koch-funded professors to discuss private police at the 2016 conference of the Mont Pelerin Society. He joined GMU professor and Mises Institute contributor Christopher Coyne on that panel.
The Charles Koch Foundation recently funded a study by the Police Foundation, which advocated for increased foot-patrol policing in communities with “strained relations” with police. Despite the hype and significance attributed in the press, forty-one pages into the report, it admits a number of selection biases and inadequacies that cast considerable doubt on the findings.
It has been documented that Right on Crime's original purpose was to promote legislation that would make it nearly impossible to convict white collar criminals, like Koch Industries, and many others in their donor network.
Chapter 5: The Battle For The Campus
In addition to fighting civil rights broadly, the Koch network has funded programs and academics who have viciously attacked these ideals within higher education.
Koch's free-market academic association, the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) includes among its recommended reading Peter Thiel's Diversity Myth, which describes "multi-culturalism” as a threat to "western civilization.”
The Charles Koch Institute and Right on Crime have embraced one of the most outspoken critics of Black Lives Matter, the Manhattan Institute's Heather Macdonald. Macdonald is a denier of the "myth of criminal justice-racism," namely the "poisonous claim" that the "criminal justice system is a product and a source of racial inequity."
Wake Forest University's James Otteson, Koch’s “well-being” guru, has been criticized by the campus community for the lack of transparency surrounding his multi-million dollar Koch center. This mirrors trouble Otteson ran into at Yeshiva University, where he was criticized for "shaping the honors program in a less than transparent manner without significant faculty support or consensus." He ultimately left after his anonymous blog was discovered, wherein he used disparaging language about the "differential abilities between men and women." Otteson's bigoted positions were reflected in his 2017 APEE panel discussion on well-being, where a panelist discussed the tendency for "anglo" cultures to be more productive. The panelist, a Koch-funded professor at St. John's University, remarked that some cultures "suck."
Between February, 2017 and February, 2018, a rash of so-called “campus free speech” laws have spread to at least fifteen states. These laws punish protesters who "disrupt" the "free speech" of anyone on campus, in particular, incendiary speakers. The ACLU in many states has criticized these laws as interfering with protected free expression. These bills were authored by Koch-network organizations, including ALEC, the Goldwater Institute, and the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
The donors behind these groups also fund incendiary speakers like Milo Yiannoupolous, Charles Murray, and others who intentionally baiting backlash on campuses in order to make the case for the protection of their "free speech." Charles Murray is a white nationalist and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Murray’s work “racist pseudoscience.” Murray is a consistent presenter at Charles Koch’s donor seminars, and his works are cited twice in Charles Koch’s book, The Science of Success. The Koch Foundation's campus programs have co-sponsored Murray's lectures, and Murray was honored by the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE), which included his eugenicist book The Bell Curve as recommended reading.
While the Koch network was opposing the civil rights gains that integrated colleges and fighting diversity initiatives in higher education, the Charles Koch Foundation announced new relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including partnerships with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF).
Koch's UNCF partnership is not an outright donation, but was used to establish a Koch scholars program that CKF maintains close control over. This includes potential veto power over the "advisory board" and drastically constraining the eligible majors students can choose from. Of the 143 eligible campuses, 100 were listed as having additional restrictions on majors. All 100 are campuses where Koch has already funded specific programming. Of the remaining 43, only 9 have Koch funding. It can also be seen that, despite it being entirely unadvertised, the UNCF/Koch Scholars program is pushing Charles Koch's proprietary philosophy, Market Based Management.
The TMCF exhibits similar problems. Koch did not donate to TMCF, but launched a joint organization, the Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO), whose purpose will be to help Koch build programs and centers at HBCUs across the country.
The CAO can also be seen acting as a front for the Koch network's aggressive "school choice" agenda. The CAO has collaborated closely with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and EdChoice to promote charter schools, and an AEI official has been hired to lead the CAO. AEI hosts the white nationalist Charles Murray and Ed Blum, the brains behind the anti-civil rights legal attack dog that struck down the Voting Rights Act, the Project on Fair Representation.